Home News Health deteriorates for detained church elder in China

Health deteriorates for detained church elder in China

Elder Zhang Chunlei of the Renai Reformed Church in Guiyang remains in critical health condition in detention, suffering from severe liver cirrhosis. 

Bitter Winter reported that since his detention in March 2021 without a formal sentence, Zhang’s health has visibly worsened, sparking international concern and calls for his immediate release.

Zhang, a prominent figure in the local house church community, was arrested over three years ago on charges of “fraud and inciting subversion of state power,” a common accusation against members of unsanctioned religious groups in China. 

His trial, which occurred on November 29, 2022, has yet to yield a verdict, leaving his legal status in limbo.

Complications arose when Zhang, previously healthy, developed cholecystitis during his detention, leading to a hospitalization in August 2023 where he was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. 

Despite his critical condition, he was returned to jail. Reports from his wife, Yang Aiqing, suggest that his survival is at risk without proper medical care outside the prison environment.

Efforts by Zhang’s legal team to access his case file were partly thwarted, as certain documents were reported missing during an inspection on June 4, further complicating the appeals process initiated by his wife.

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Yang has reached out to international human rights organizations, urging them to advocate for her husband’s release. 

She conveyed Zhang’s message to his followers, emphasizing his pride in facing imprisonment for his faith and urging them to remain joyful and unashamed of his predicament.

Elder Zhang’s case has been noted by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

He is recognized as being detained due to his religious identity and activities. As a house church leader, he has been vocal against religious persecution. It remains uncertain how much longer he will remain incarcerated.”

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